Great abs are on the wish lists of men and women all over the world. While the ability to spot-reduce is a myth, much less to do it in 10 days, it doesn't mean you should give up on your six-pack dream just yet. It will just take a little longer to build up and define your abs. If your nutrition and workout habits are good, exercises that target the abs will tone and strengthen the muscles. Among the best exercises for abs is one you can do at home with no equipment.
Best Bang for Your Abs in 10 Days
If you want to try to firm your abs in 10 days, forget about the endless crunches. The traditional crunch was deemed one of the least effective among 13 common abdominal exercises in a study conducted by the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University. The top-ranked exercises included the bicycle maneuver, the captain's chair and crunches on an exercise ball.
If you don't have access to a gym, the bicycle maneuver may just be the best exercise for you because it requires no equipment. Begin by lying on your back with your heels off the floor. Start with your knees directly over your hips, and bend your knees to a 90-degree angle so that your lower legs are parallel to the floor. With your hands behind your head for support, draw your navel toward your spine and lift your shoulder blades off the floor. Slowly kick your legs out one at a time. As you are kicking, twist your torso and bring your right shoulder toward your left knee and then your left shoulder toward the right knee. Repeat until you feel the burn all over your abs. Work up to two or three sets.
If you have regular access to a gym, try the captain's chair. It looks like a tall chair without a seat. With your body facing away from the chair, hold onto the chair handles and step up onto the footrests. Place your elbows and forearms onto the armrests and rest your back against the chair. Push your elbows and forearms down against the armrests to hold your body nice and tall while allowing your legs to hang. Pull your shoulder blades down and back, so your neck is long and your shoulders are down and away from your ears. Draw your navel toward the spine and slowly lift both knees up toward your navel. Hold your knees up for a second before slowly lowering them to your starting position. Do up to 15 repetitions as long as you can maintain good posture. Work up to two or three sets.
Exercise Ball Crunches
These crunches are more effective than traditional crunches because your muscles have to work harder to balance yourself on the ball. Sit on the ball with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Slowly walk your feet forward until you're lying down with your lower back in full contact with the ball. With your arms crossed in front of your chest or hands on the side of your head for support, draw your navel toward your spine and slowly lift your upper body to about 45 degrees. Slowly return to starting position and repeat until you feel a burn in your abs. Work up to two or three sets.
Beyond Ab Exercises
Because the most important factor for great-looking abs is your body fat percentage, improving your body composition is key. If you carry most of your extra weight around your waist, the visceral fat known as "belly fat" responds best to cardiovascular exercise. Incorporate cardiovascular exercise and full-body strength training to maximize caloric expenditure. A healthy eating plan is also essential to losing weight, ensuring that you're reducing your fat stores. Reduce your calorie intake by 250 to 500 calories a day to lose those extra pounds that conceal your abdominal muscles. As you lose weight and body fat, those rock-hard abs underneath the fat layer may just be able to find their way to the surface for you to show them off.
- American Council on Exercise: Why Is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- American Council on Exercise: American Council on Exercise (ACE)-sponsored Study Reveals Best and Worst Abdominal Exercises
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Weight Control and Diet
- Rush University Medical Center: An Expert Opinion: Is There Really "One Trick" to Losing Belly Fat?